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Wed. Aug 10th, 2022
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Having bagged silver at the Tokyo Olympics last year, wrestler Ravi Dahiya won’t settle for anything less than gold at CWG
To say Ravi Dahiya is shy will be an understatement. It is an onerous task to get words out of his mouth. At times, he stops midway through his sentences and then you’ve to prompt him. But on the mat he doesn’t require any prompting, and seldom does he stop.
What would serve as a better example than the 57kg Tokyo Olympics semifinal. His opponent, Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan was leading 9-2, going into the final minute, and to wriggle out of a stranglehold by the Indian, he even bit Ravi’s right bicep. But Ravi didn’t relent, despite the fact that he was in pain. Finally, he won by fall and entered the final. There was hardly any change in his facial expressions after such a tough win.

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Although he became the second Indian wrestler to win an Olympic silver after Sushil Kumar – Ravi lost the 57kg final to twice World Champion Zaur Uguev of Russia – the lasting image from the Tokyo Games for Indian wrestling was Ravi looking at his right bicep, while Sanayev was lying on the mat hiding his face in the palms of his hands after the semifinal loss.
It has been almost a year since Ravi stood on the Tokyo podium. He has already gone on record that he wants to better the colour of his Olympic medal, but before that happens in Paris in 2024, Ravi fancies getting hold of the first gold in the set of three. The set of three here means Commonwealth Games gold, Asian Games gold and Olympic gold. The Asiad gold will have to wait for one more year, but in Birmingham on August 6, lies Ravi’s chance to clinch the CWG gold.

India's history at the Commonwealth Games

India’s history at the Commonwealth Games

“For me, winning the gold medal is the main target,” Ravi, who will be participating in his maiden CWG, says in his normal, doughty tone. After his silver at the Olympics, the country’s wrestling aficionados naturally expect more from him. “He is no more the unknown quantity for the nation like he was before the Tokyo Games. He now has a reputation to live up to,” one of the coaches associated with the men’s wrestling team remarked.
The Commonwealth Games is unlikely to challenge a pedigreed wrestler like Ravi. None of the world’s top wrestlers in the 57kg category are part of the Commonwealth, therefore Ravi’s path to a probable gold will be easier.

“I am not going to take it (CWG) lightly – not by any means. When I am representing India, I am never casual,” says Ravi.
Form too is on Ravi’s side. After the Olympics, Ravi has won gold medals at the Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the coveted Yasar Dogu Ranking Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. “The gold medal is for Ravi’s to lose. But he has to be on top of his game. There are some good wrestlers from Pakistan, Canada, Nigeria and South Africa in his category,” the men’s wrestling team coach said.

The 24-year-old still trains at the iconic Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi under legendary coach Satpal Singh, who is credited to have mentored the likes of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. His long-time sparring partner Arun Kumar, who hails from the same Nahri village in Sonepat, Haryana, also oversees Ravi’s training. This time they’ve worked on Ravi’s leg defence and stability on the mat before he embarks on that flight to Birmingham.
Ravi’s CWG fate will be decided on August 6 at the Coventry Arena, just 30 minutes from Birmingham centre. The entire country is wishing the medal will be one notch higher than the one at the Olympics.

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